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Ranfurly Shield fever is back

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Monday, July 23, 2018    Jack Sergent-Shadbolt    Getty Images

Taranaki snatched the shield from Canterbury late last season and will begin their 2018 defence against Heartland Championship team Poverty Bay. 

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The Bulls first won the shield back in 1996 - a reign lasting a mere 15 days. After a lean trot in the 2000s, their victory at the end of last season was the second time this decade that the shield had found a home in Taranaki. They also came agonisingly close to a third reign in the decade when they drew with Waikato in 2016.

The challenge for them will be to hold onto the shield for an entire season, a feat they’re yet to achieve. If they are victorious against Poverty Bay this weekend, the next defence will be against Heartland Championship winners Whanganui in Hawera on August 4.

Ranfurly Shield pre-season defences
Saturday July 28: Taranaki v Poverty Bay, Tikorangi Domain, 2.35pm
Saturday August 4: Taranaki v Whanganui, Hicks Park, Hawera, 2.35pm
Ranfurly Shield holders 1976-2017
Here’s where the shield has been since the inception of the National Provincial Championship:

1976 - Auckland/ Manawatu
1977 - Manawatu
1978 - Manawatu/ Northland
1979 - Northland/ Auckland
1980 - Auckland/ Waikato
1981 - Waikato/ Wellington
1982 - Wellington/ Canterbury
1983/4 - Canterbury
1985 - Canterbury/ Auckland
1986- 1992 - Auckland
1993 - Auckland/ Waikato
1994 - Waikato/Canterbury
1995 - Canterbury/ Auckland
1996 - Auckland/Taranaki/ Waikato/ Auckland
1997 - Auckland/ Waikato
1998/9 - Waikato
2000 - Waikato/ Canterbury
2001/2 - Canterbury
2003 - Canterbury/ Auckland
2004 - Auckland/ B.O.P/ Canterbury
2005 - Canterbury
2006 - Canterbury/ N. Harbour
2007 - N. Harbour/ Waikato/ Canterbury/ Auckland
2008 - Auckland/ Wellington
2009 - Wellington/ Canterbury/ Southland
2010 - Southland/ Canterbury
2011 - Canterbury/ Southland/ Taranaki
2012 - Taranaki/ Waikato
2013 - Waikato/ Otago/ Hawkes Bay/ Counties Manukau
2014 - Counties Manukau/ Hawkes Bay
2015 - Hawkes Bay/ Waikato
2016 - Waikato/ Canterbury
2017 - Canterbury/ Taranaki

Current holders: Taranaki